Kenneth "K. K." Downing, Jr. (born 27 October 1951) is an English semi-retired Grammy Award winning guitarist, songwriter and founding member of the British heavy metal band Judas Priest.
Full Name at Birth
Kenneth Keith Downing, Jr.
West Bromwich, England
Guitarist/Songwriter/co founder of Judas Priest
Claim to Fame
Profile Bio Text
Kenneth "K. K." Downing, Jr. (born 27 October 1951 in Yew Tree Estate in West Bromwich, England) is a Grammy Award winning guitarist, songwriter and a founding member of the British heavy metal band Judas Priest.
Early life and career
Downing dropped out of school when he was 16 years old. A short time later, he was told by his parents to leave, which he did. In the late 1960s, Kenneth discovered rock music and the guitar. He was heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, after whom he modelled his playing style. In the early 1970s, Downing decided to form a band with his friend Ian Hill, and this band would become Judas Priest. Downing played on every Judas Priest album from Rocka Rolla to A Touch of Evil: Live.
Playing style and technique
K.K. Downing in 1980Downing has been noted for his aggressive, rock influenced guitar solos and dual leads with fellow Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton. His solos have remained of this style for most of his career, but he has incorporated various techniques into his playing over the years. As opposed to Tipton, his solos tend to incorporate a more raw, rough-edged sound, making use of techniques like pinch harmonics, dive bombs, and tremolo picking, and often focus on speed, technical accuracy and melody. In 1978, Tipton began to incorporate tapping into his playing, which Downing promptly began to use as well. By 1990, both guitarists started to use the complex technique of sweep-picking, which can be notably heard on the title track of their 1990 album Painkiller. Both have continuously used these techniques ever since. Some of his guitar solos are on such tracks as "Victim of Changes", the 2nd solo in "Beyond the Realms of Death", "Before The Dawn", "Sinner", "Don't Go", the 2nd solo in "Painkiller", and the live version of "Breaking The Law", although naturally which solos are most notable is debated among fans. Notable guitar duels are on such tracks as "Hellrider", "Bullet Train", "Nostradamus", "The Sentinel", "Ram It Down", "Metal Meltdown", "Eat Me Alive" and "Riding On The Wind".
In Judas Priest's early years, Downing made common use of the wah-wah pedal, but began to limit his use of it in the late '70s, and had abandoned use of it by the mid-'80s, save for during live performances of the songs that originally featured it. The only time since then that he has renewed use of it was in 1996, when vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens joined the band, and they began to experiment with their music more than before. One of these experimentations was the renewal of wah-wah in Downing's playing, which can be heard on their 1997 album Jugulator. This experimentation was taken further on their next album with Owens, 2001's Demolition, but was once more abandoned when the band's former vocalist, Rob Halford, returned to the band. Soon enough, Downing would later use a wah-wah pedal on more recent tours.
Downing officially retired from Judas Priest on April 20, 2011. An official press release was issued by the band. The band decided to continue with Richie Faulkner as a replacement for Downing. Downing has since devoted time to his other passion in life, golf.
Downing owns a home in Spain, but his main abode is Astbury Hall in Shropshire, England. It is in a very secluded area so he can (as stated in a 2007 interview) "blast his Marshalls." Sarah Lissimore, his former girlfriend, mounted a legal challenge for half of Downing's Shropshire estate. This was based on his assertion, "I'd bet you'd love to be lady of this Manor, wouldn't you?". The High Court rejected the notion that this assertion could give rise to proprietary estoppel in favour of Lissimore.
Recognition and honors
Downing was ranked 23 on rock magazine Hit Parader's list of 100 greatest metal guitarists.
Downing has many guitars, among them:
1964 Gibson Flying V Limited Edition with Gibson PAF pickups (one out of 200)
1970 Gibson Flying V with Maestro vibrato bar (number 233 out of 500)
1969 Fender Stratocaster (White) with left-handed neck
1970-71 Fender Stratocaster (Sunburst)
Custom Hamer Vector, Vector KK and KK Mini V guitars
ESP Custom V guitar
Judas Priest Special V Handmade by Daniel R. Johnson (K. K.'s former touring guitar tech).
KxK Custom Shop V K. K. Downing Model 2 guitar.
Ovation Elite series Acoustic
Amplifiers and effects
Digitech 1101 Preamp
Marshall 9100 Power Amplifier.
Marshall JMP-1 Preamp
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier
Rocktron Piranha Preamp
Marshall JMP Non master volume heads
[MXR] Distortion +
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Heavy metal, speed metal, hard rock
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